A Serious Series

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In little more than a year, the number of titles in the Canadian History & Environment series at University of Calgary Press has jumped from two to eight. That means six new edited collections on nature and the Canadian past, all published in print and simultaneous free, open-access form.[1] That also means more than sixty chapters by more than sixty contributors, together demonstrating the incredible vitality and the broad range of work now underway within the Canadian (and American) environmental history communities. It also means more than sixty free, open-access chapters available for immediate use in university courses. Did I mention they were free and open-access?

So it seems like a good moment to spotlight these six new titles:

They join the 2011 A Century of Parks Canada, 1911-2011, ed. Claire E. Campbell, and the 2013 Historical GIS Research in Canada, eds. Jennifer Bonnell and Marcel Fortin.

Over the course of the next two weeks, The Otter is running a series of six posts in which the new books will be introduced by their editors. Some editors relate their historical work to a contemporary issue, others tweak prose from their introduction, and still others spin their books off in an entirely new direction. If you’re interested in nature and the Canadian past, if you’re looking for readings for a university course, or if you’re simply searching for Christmas presents, these posts should be of interest. But if you’re thinking of presents, buy the book: PDFs and printouts still make lousy gifts.

As editor of the Canadian History & Environment series, I would be remiss in not adding that University of Calgary Press and I are always on the lookout for manuscripts. We welcome submissions from individual or teams wishing to edit a future volume. The series is historically focused, but of special interest are proposals that utilize historical sources and methodologies to explore current environmental issues. If you are interested in developing a volume, please contact me at amaceach@uwo.ca.


[1] Many scholars have expressed to me their astonishment that the books are available without paywall — one gleefully assumed Calgary’s website was broken. In 2009, then-director of the Press Donna Livingstone and I were talking about developing a NiCHE-led book series on the theme of nature and the Canadian past. “How about it be dedicated to edited collections,” I asked, “capturing the energy and collaborative character of the environmental history / historical geography community in Canada?”
“How about encouraging contributors to get together and workshop the book early in the process?”
“How about, and this is a dealbreaker” – it wasn’t – “all titles be published simultaneously in print and free, open-access form? That would convince contributors and readers that these were ‘real’ books, but would also allow – “
I give so much credit to the University of Calgary Press, and its directors Donna Livingstone, Peter Enman, and now Brian Scrivener for their commitment to promoting widespread dissemination of their titles.

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I am the author of Becoming Green Gables (spring 2024), The Summer Trade (with Edward MacDonald, 2022), & The Miramichi Fire (2020), & the editor of the print/open-access Canadian History & Environment series at University of Calgary Press. I was Director of NiCHE, 2004-15. Contact me at amaceach@uwo.ca.

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